Baseball’s All-Time Best Draft Picks

In celebration of the first-year player draft happening right now, Josh Helmuth looks back at some of the best bargains baseball has ever seen.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Monday's opening of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft was one for the history books as the Houston Astros selected 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa with the first selection, making him the first No. 1 pick out of Puerto Rico in the history of the draft.

Here's just a quick glance at some other 'historically' great picks the draft has seen over the last couple of generations — taking into account that these guys came as absolute bargains on draft day.

Mike Piazza – Dodgers
The Catcher was selected — get this — in the 62nd round by the Dodgers in 1988 by manager Tommy Lasorda. The move was actually done as a favor in that Lasorda was a family friend of Piazza's father who asked the manager to draft his son. He was the 1,390th player selected before going on to to win NL Rookie of the Year in 1993 and earning 10 Silver Slugger awards. The 12-time All-Star who played for mostly the Dodgers and Mets is considered one of the — if not the greatest — hitting catcher of all-time. The epitome of the best under-valued pick of all-time.

Mark Buehrle – White Sox
Went pick No. 1,139 in 1998. Now he has two no-hitters — one of them being perfect — and 153 wins on his resume. You're welcome, Marlins.

Jeff Conine – Royals
The two-time All-Star was one of the key pieces in both the Marlins' World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. Conine was a .285 hitter in his 17-year career, and he was drafted in 1987 by the Kansas City Royals with the 1,226th pick. Florida — excuse me, now Miami — swept him up in the 1993 expansion draft.

Keith Hernandez – Cardinals
The slugger was a five-time All-Star, shared the NL MVP with Willie Stargell in 1979, and won a World Series ring with St. Louis in 1982. He hit nearly .300 in his 17-year career and was selected by the Cards in 1971 with the 785th pick.

Albert Pujols – Cardinals

"The Machine" wasn't taken until the 402nd pick by the Cardinals in 1999 because many teams were unsure of his real age and which position he would be able to play. Now, three MVPs and two World Series rings later, Pujols is considered one of the most feared hitters in the history of the sport. I would say "you're welcome, Angels," but we all know how that started out this spring.

Jorge Posada – Yankees
A five-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion with the 646th pick? Yes, please. This pick, made in 1990, provided the Yankees stability behind the plate for years.

Ryne Sandberg – Phillies
One of the most beloved Cubbies in history wasn't taken until pick No. 511 in 1978. He was a high school quarterback prodigy who signed a letter of intent to play football for Washington State until he got drafted by the Phillies in the 20th round later that year. Sandberg has the highest fielding percentage of any second baseman in the history of baseball and was a 10-time All-Star, while also earning the 1984 NL MVP.

Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at

Photo Credit: AP